Paleface

Get Off

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By the time Get Off was released in 1996, Paleface had already been through the major label wringer with Polydor, which released his first LP, and was going through the same with Sire. In the absence of an obvious MTV Buzz Bin-ready single, the latter label didn’t know what to do with the groove-based, fuzzed-out, deconstructed folk album they’d been delivered. They quietly released the album with little promotion and soon dropped Paleface altogether, while the artist himself set out on a course of artistic rejuvenation.

In fairness, Get Off is not a very accessible record. But given some time, it is a true grower. This is uncompromising outsider art, inspired by the artist’s one-time mentor Daniel Johnston, and it goes full-throttle for much of its duration. With alternately growling and plaintive vocals, Paleface gives us pained songs about loss and self-loathing like “My Fault” (a standout acoustic track) as well as the timeless plea for love that informs the careening rocker “Don’t You Understand.”

While the rawness of the sound is a unifying factor, Paleface dips into different styles, which keeps this an interesting listen all the way through. Not all of the songs hit their mark, with a few disposable tracks, but this is the sound of an artist experimenting with structure and genre, pushing the boundaries of what popular music can be. Paleface would go on to refine this approach with more cohesive results on future releases.

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